Collecting Delaware Books

Children's Histories


There are many books for children about Delaware. Packet Alley (Collecting Delaware Books vol. 4, no. 4) is probably the best known. The books of Anne Z. Sparklin are also favorites, especially downstate. Delaware histories for children are surprisingly common. Three are described below.

Shirley Sipple

Delaware Through the Years by Shirley Sipple was published in 1948 by Lyons & Carahan, Chicago as a school text. Many of the copies found today have the stamp of a Delaware public school on the fly leaf, though the book was apparently sold at book stores as well.

The author was a public school teacher in Felton. She had guidance from the state department of education in preparing the book.

History is told as a series of stories about the travels of fictional children, grouped into chapters. The chapter "A Trip to the Beach" has three stories, including "Seeing Lewes." The chapter "Return Home" covers Wilmington history and geography in three stories. New Castle, Dover, Newark and the university, and Rehoboth all get additional chapters. There are study projects and questions after each chapter.

The Revolution, colonial life and education, slavery, churches, manufacturing, heroes, authors, and artists are treated in a similar manner. Poetry by Gilbert Byron, George Hynson, Thomas Irons, and others is sprinkled throughout the book.

Copies of this book are easy to find, because so many were printed. Finding one that is not battered by a decade of school use is not so easy.

H. Clay Reed

The Delaware Colony by H. Clay Reed was published in 1970 by the Crowell-Collier Press as part of the "A Forge of Freedom Book" series that featured the original 13 colonies. The book is written for older children and covers the Delaware colony from its founding in 1638 to the moment its representatives signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The author was professor of history at the University of Delaware for 40 years, retiring in 1964. He is best known in book circles for editing Delaware, A History of the First State, published in 1947. Reed inspired the generation of historians that followed him with his interest in Delaware.

The author does not talk down to the readers of this book. Indeed, it is usually shelved in the main collection of local libraries, despite being universally cataloged as juvenile literature.

Some of the chapters include "Sweden Founds a Colony," "Forests and Indians," "Swanendael," "The Rise and Fall of New Sweden," "Life in New Sweden," "The Dutch and the English," "The Land," "Labor," "Negro Slavery," "Government," and "The Coming of the Revolution."

The Delaware Colony is not easy to find, though, when found, it is often in fine condition with dust jacket.

Christensen and Burney

Colonial Delaware by Gardell Dano Christensen and Eugenia Burney was published in 1974 as part of the "Colonial Histories" series by Thomas Nelson, Inc. It covers Delaware from Leni-Lenape times to the end of the Revolution. The writing is aimed at a slightly younger audience than Professor Reed's book. Many excellent illustrations are included but not credited.

Chapters include "A Changing World," "The Ambitious Dutch," "The Dreams of a Swedish King," "The Dutch Governor's Goal," "The Three Lower Counties," "William Penn's Holy Experiment," "Growth and Conflict," "Towns," "Industry on the Brandywine," "Boundaries, Black Men, and Indians," "Storm Clouds to the West," "The Blue Hen's Chickens," "The Price of Independence," "Internal Strife," and "Peace and Amnesty."

Neither author has extensive Delaware connections. Burney wrote books in the "Colonial Histories" series for North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Christensen wrote the book for New York as well as nine other books for children and young adults. This book is not hard to find and often comes in fine condition with a dust jacket.

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